If you think grilled cheese should be marked Age 10 and Under, maybe it's time to revisit some of San Francisco's versions that are not on the kid's menu. There are more than a few takes on your childhood favorite, dressed up with very adult cheeses and wonderful non-Wonder breads. Our five favorites, right this way.
1) Outerlands—Thick, chewy slices of warm house-baked Tartine-style bread; cheese that overflows from the middle, forming a heavily cheese-crusted edge, a foggy chill in the air, and bowls of warm, thoughtfully seasoned soup make Outerlands' grilled cheese a near-religious undertaking.
2) Eat Curbside—Brie and vinegary caramelized onions make this one of San Francisco's most intoxicating takes on the classic. Frenchifying it further, the bread used is a buttery pan de mie that crisps up in perfect contrast to its oozing middle. It's all rather refined and balanced for a grilled cheese from a food truck.
3) Straw—Leave it to a place that brackets a burger with glazed donuts to grill Parmesan cheese on top of its grilled cheese. Straw's sandwich is filled with a blend of cheddar and swiss, and we recommend adding bacon and a side of tomato soup. It's well worth the extra $3.50.
4) Jasper's Corner Tap—Grilled cheese with pork belly is a dirty trick. Jasper's version also comes with the welcome acidic kick of tomato-onion relish and whole wheat sourdough, making it absolutely nothing like the versions you ate before age 20.
5) American Grilled Cheese Kitchen – Co-owner Heidi Gibson has won grilled cheese invitational contests across the country, so her addition here is a shoo-in. The simple Mousetrap sandwich showcases her talent at getting the right ratio of buttered bread to a cheddar-havarti-jack combo every time. If you must be fancy, add fresh jalapenos and roasted tomato for added heat and umami.
We know there are other grilled cheeses worth talking about. Tell us about your favorite in the comments.